Keeping your winter training fresh - tips for Run Leaders and Coaches

Top Tips to keep you running this winter

Winter can be a difficult time to keep yourself and your runners engaged and returning each week to training because of the dark nights and cold wet weather but here a few ways to keep motivation  high and your training sessions appealing.

There is no getting away from it that winter training is about building a base in preparation for those spring and summer nights when you are working on faster speed. But you can run these sessions in a fun and engaging way if you just think a little differently. You still need to include tempo and interval sessions, recovery and long runs but think about where and how you could run these.

Paula Wallace, at RunNI, says that winter is a great time to build muscle strength so, if you usually train two nights a week and a Saturday morning and are finding it hard to find a venue to safely train at night, why not swap one of those nights and come in from the cold, hire a hall or go the gym and run a series of Strength and Conditioning (S&C) sessions, your NGB can help you with advice on this and may be able to recommend an S&C coach.

You need to  make a plan. Do this on your own or with your club members virtually or face to face to plan programmes and targets for the months ahead, This could include exciting adventures such as going as a club to a warm weather race in the spring that includes many events like a 5k, 10k  or even a marathon distance to cover everyone’s goals or you may want to go for something more local, a new event you haven’t been to before or a tour of parkruns, the decision will depend on you and your club member’s goals. Always remember to keep your goals achievable.

Alternatively you could organise an interclub race or relay, training could be focused up to this event. The event could be held as a trail or road race in your local area using the handicap system. You could plan a social event for after this, tea/coffee cake or even a club night out.

Dark wet nights are difficult for training and made even harder if you don’t have the appropriate gear. It’s a good idea to wear the correct kit. Layers, gloves, hats, luminous kit, lights, these all make running a lot more comfortable and safer  in winter. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on these products.

Remind your running buddies and yourself, if they are able to train in dark, wet and cold evenings they are building mental toughness and resilience. They might also be stronger than those who trained indoors all winter.

It might be worth helping to  organise a club day out. What about getting your team-mates together to either go and watch or volunteer at a big athletic event. Possibly a large Cross Country event where they will see all different levels of runners. This can be rewarding as well as motivating. You may find some of you members keen to try a XC race after this. Some event organisers may provide a specific club reward if you take on a volunteering role at an event, so check that out too. Contact your NGB regarding this.

You may have to think outside the box a bit regarding some of your  running sessions. If you train somewhere near trails with hills, utilise these, they are great for building strength.

Are there paths that loop round where you could create a tempo session?

Take another look at where you train, use your imagination and see what you can come up with. Is there somewhere you can deliver a Paarlauf session? Tthis is an interesting way to run an interval session. It is a two man continuous relay where person A runs fast around a circuit whilsts person B recovers (or person A runs half a circuit whilst person B runs slowly across the middle to 'take the baton' half way across).

In the winter months runners generally want to concentrate on improving their speed endurance. Below are some suggested sessions, please note the reps are faster, but not too fast as recoveries are short. You must take weather into consideration. In summer reps would be very fast and recoveries longer as it’s warmer.

If you would like any further information on training tips and sessions

See our runbritain training Wizard here

If in Northern Ireland - contact the Run NI TEAM via this link or complete the Flying Coach Visit form

RunTogether also have a range of support resources here

jogScotland have support and links here

Run Wales have support and links here